Overall Score 72%
The Magic Seal
As a reviewer, I'm always hoping that I'll get to play some crazy new concepts in gaming, so seeing The Magic Seal in our queue was a breath of fresh air. With that name, this had to involve a mammal with magical powers? Never trust a game title readers, they're never what they seem. This Seal is basically a magic door.
With hopes dashed for some beachball balancing action, it was time to get into puzzle playing mode again as The Magic Seal is based around a number of puzzle concepts, most notably the much-used Sokoban.
Unusually for the puzzle genre, this game doesn't rely on just one type of puzzle to keep you entertained. The story involves you traversing a castle full of puzzles in order to rescue your son from a sinister wizard. The levels are set inside a huge building full of rooms, and the rooms need a variety of coloured keys to enter them.
To get the keys, you need to complete the puzzle that is built into the room. To begin with, this is simple to do; avoid the moving monsters, walk around the pits and don't get hit by lasers. Progress through the game gets tougher though, and you'll soon be moving crates around Sokoban-style and navigating conveyer belts in order to get to the next section.
The Wizard's castle holds 170 rooms, each more demanding than the last. With such a vast number of rooms, the developer has added Load and Save slots to allow you to save at any point but in a strange move, you are also hindered by a limited stock of lives. With the instant save nature of the game, the lives counter seems a little redundant, and annoys you when you have to restore to the last save point, just to restore your lives.
The whole castle is viewed from above with a very slight angle to give a slight 3D effect. Your character (a prince!) is well animated and is actually quite funny in his movement. The rest of the in-game graphics are well suited (nothing fancy), giving a clean feel to the rooms and allowing to you to see your objectives easily.
Audio is adequate but don't be suprised if you turn on some proper music within minutes of playing. The music and spot effects aren't bad, but they are incredibly boring, even for a puzzle game. Fortunately, sound is easily the least important part of a puzzle game, and the puzzles and visuals are enough to keep you playing.
Overall, The Magic Seal is a real challenge, and it's one with a story behind it. I personally never got to resue the Prince's son but that's because I'm rubbish at puzzle games. The hardened puzzle fan will find a lot to like and the sheer number of puzzles on offer should keep you playing for a long time.
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